What is House Edge?
This is the central issue, and one that is easy to understand once you remember that casinos are businesses, and need to make money in order to stay alive. With that in mind, almost all games featured in a casino are slanted in the casinos favour, so that the casino has a better chance of winning than you do. This is known as the House Edge.
In this way, those big jackpots can accumulate and the casino can afford to give out those large sums of money, because statistically, the casino will win more often than the gambler, and thus be able to get the money to put together those big jackpots.
Not all games are equal however. How much a game favours the casino depends from game to game. For example, there are games that have no house advantage at all, such as live poker tables, which has you playing against other players, and not the house. Other games, such as slots, have a fixed chance of you winning. It all depends on what game you decide to play.
Generally, there are three major categories people put the various games into when talking about house edge – low edge, medium edge and high edge. We’ve made this helpful chart to show each:
|Low House Edge||%|
|Blackjack||0 - 2|
|Pai Gow Poker||2.5|
|Video Poker||0.5 - 3|
|Medium House Edge||%|
|Roulette (double zero)||5.3|
|Let it Ride||3.5|
|Three Card Poker||3.4|
|High House Edge||%|
|No House Edge|
What Does this Mean for You?
Knowing the house edge of the game you're playing is extremely important for you as a player – if you don’t know what chance you have of winning, there is no way you can ever use that to your advantage. Any seasoned gambler will tell you that gambling blind is like throwing money into a pit, so it's always better to go in with a plan.
Once you know what chance you have of winning, depending on the game, you can definitely use this to your advantage. Manage to get an amazing Blackjack hand? Know your chance of winning compared to the dealers can tell you when to bet big, to ensure you get the most return possible for your win.
That's just one example of many where knowing the house edge can improve your wins and your chance of winning, and is something that you as the player should always be aware of at the back of your mind when gambling in real life or online.
A Different View on House Edge
Some take a slightly different view to house edge than most, in order to get a broader view of house edge comparisons. This method uses the “element of risk”, which is the average loss divided by total money bet. Using this method, you can compare a whole host of games, and shows some interesting statistics, as seen in the graph below:
|Game||Element of Risk (percentage)|
|Pai Gow Poker||0.75|
|Let it Ride||5.17|
|Three Card Poker||1.64|
|Slots||8.74 (varies highly depending on game)|
|Keno||1.30 - 46.06|
|Double Down stud||2.13|
|WildHold 'em Fold 'em||3.23|
|Bonus 6 (no insurance)||5.41|
|Bonus 6 (with insurance)||6.42|
House Edge & House Hold – What’s the Difference?
This is a common question, and one that is easy to understand once you know both terms. The house edge, as mentioned, is the mathematical advantage in games slanted towards the casinos favour. The house hold is a slightly different concept, and is how much of a casino gambler’s chips is won back by the casino.
This means, for example, if you have $100 dollars in chips, and play a game with a 0.5% house edge, by the time you have used that $100 dollars once, the casino should have earned $0.50 cents back from your initial stack.
The two concepts work in tandem to understand the maths behind the games and how it works into a casinos favour, and it's important to know the difference between the two definitions. In an online space, the house hold is often a percentage taken off the chip pool in online poker tables for example, so knowing about it is of utmost importance.
Using House Edge to your Advantage
Knowing the House Edge can be a huge advantage to you as the player, and can help to bring home those big time wins. The saying “quit while the goings good” has never stuck a truer bell than with house advantage, as oft times that is the best advice you can get if you happen to be on a win streak.
The casinos are, by design, going to win over time, and that’s just the statistics of it all, and how house edge works at the end of the day. If you happen to be winning on a particular day, know the statistics are not in your favour to continue winning. With that in mind, sometimes the best thing you can do is put down the dice and walk away, so that you can come back and win another day.
Never play too much with the house edge, as it is a beast that always wins – it is mathematically designed that way after all.
Always Be Responsible
As mentioned above, believing your next win is around the corner is a false belief, as the house edge almost always has you against the odds. If you are losing, do the responsible thing and walk away. Always make sure to set a budget and gamble within that, so that you don’t end up in unnecessary trouble.
Problem gambling is a real thing, and effects many people around the world. If you or anyone around you shows signs of problem gambling, make sure to go through the proper channels to find help.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the house edge?
House edge is represented by a percentage that reflects how much a game favors the casino. It reduces each player's chance to win and increases the likelihood that the casino will profit over time. Generally, casino games fall into low, medium or high edge categories.
What does house odds mean?
The term 'house odds' is synonymous for 'house edge'. Both refer to the percentage of all bets the casino is mathematically guaranteed to win over time.
- Which casino games have the lowest house edge?
Which game will pay out the most?
Casino games that generally offer the largest prize pools include progressive jackpot slots and keno. However, the likelihood of winning a jackpot is very small, and the house edge is typically high for these games.
Casino games with the highest payout percentages are also the games with the lowest house edges. Some online slots offer an RTP (return to player) as high as 99%. That translates to a house edge of 1%. Blackjack is a low house edge/high payout table game with an edge of 0-2%.
Is the house edge the same at every casino site?
House edge is not guaranteed to be the same across casino sites. However, properly licensed and regulated casino sites will offer comparable percentages across most casino games.